Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Xi'an Famous Foods - East Village

To my knowledge, this is the third time J and I revisited Xi'an. We finally ordered the spicy dishes which they are known for this time around, the first 2 times we didn't because we knew we weren't able to handle the spiciness. Finally, the hard training days of eating spicy food paid off and we can enjoy it! Love spicy food now!

We were lucky to find seats inside this small and cramp spot. Xi'an has other branches but this is the original and we always see ourselves coming back to this same spot. I love how each dish has a letter and number that corresponds to it. You don't have to read the longass name, just say A1 or N1 or whatever it is, makes the ordering process a lot easier and faster.

Feels like cafeteria Asian style kind of eating. If you order dry noodles they give you a plate and if you order noodle soup, they give you a bowl. The day was too hot for soup noodles so we stuck to non-soupie dishes, didn't help much since it was spicy.

I wanted something cold for before thinking I told J to get me a Stir Fried Cold Skin Noodle. It soon hit me that stir fried means it's going to be hot and not cold...dammit! Nonetheless, it was delicious and addicting. Stir fried rice noodles with bean sprouts and gluten which is amazing, got a little tang to it but certainly yummy!

J had the Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles. The noodles were swimming in a pool of hot sauce, a lot less spicier than mine. I really like the texture of the noodles in the hot sauce and the pieces just add enough meaty-ness to it all. I want to slurp his entire plate!

To end it all, we had the Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger. Very similar to J's noodles but a bit more on the dry side. Eating the burger this time was a lot messier than the first couple of times  because the juices were oozing everywhere. I think I still like the pork burger better.

There's very limited seats at this Xi'an location but the cool thing we found out is that if you order food from Xi'an, there are a couple of places near the area that let you sit in their restaurant/shop if you buy a drink from them. How awesome is that?!

Xi'an Famous Food
81 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 786-2068

Lunchin' @ Mulberry Meat Market

The past year or so I've been ordering my lunch from the Mulberry Meat Market because it's cheap and delicious.

It's a meat market which you can buy all sorts of raw meat and have it cook at home or you can look at your left hand side when you walk in, everything is already cooked and made for you. They have 2 sides and rice for $3.25 or with 3 sides add an additional 50 cents. They also have a lot of roast meats and barbeque meats also. Everything is priced at an affordable rate. I usually get their Roast Pork over Rice which is only $3.75 and they even give you vegetables.

Their Soy Sauce Chicken over Rice is amazing also, dark or white meat, the price is still at $4.50 a box. Extremely filling and pleasantly to look at also!

The chicken is moist and tender, the flavor of the soy sauce is soaked into the chicken skin which makes it packed with flavor. I really enjoy the ginger and scallion sauce they layer on top of the chicken, you need that sauce for a more authentic Chinese meal.

There is really only a few places that gives you vegetables with your rice box without the extra cost. I need my meat and veggies with my dish so this is why Mulberry Meat Market won me over.

If you want cheap roast meats that delivers in taste also, this is the spot to hit up. It's basically in the center of Chinatown and very conveniently close to Canal Street where all the tourist roams around.

Mulberry Meat Market
89 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 267-0350

Monday, July 30, 2012


Cute containers with mac and cheese, yes please!

I've grown to really like mac and cheese thanks to J. The last time I had mac and cheese at a specialized shop, I was really impressed and really liked it. That's why when we found out about Macbar, we were pretty excited.

I came to order take-out, probably not the smartest thing to do but mac and cheese is one of the type of food that should taste great even when it's cold, or if it's too cold we can pop it in the oven.

I placed my order of 2 medium size mac and cheese because with the medium or large size, they put it in this macaroni shaped tupperware, how awesome is that?! The wait took about 15 minutes which I suppose was a decent time since they had to cook my mac and cheese in the oven...

A ginormous macaroni tupperware. It was extremely yellow...
Bad thing is that the container doesn't close correctly therefore it's considered useless...

It also came with these funky yellow utensils. Pretty cute. Once you snap them apart, you can't put them back together like they use to...this is getting lame.

J asked me to get him the Mac 'Shroom and I did! Doesn't it look delicious? It might also taste a lot better if we had it on the spot. I liked how there were chunks of mushrooms but wished there were more cheese.

My Mac Lobsta' was a real disappointment, I mean I know not to expect a lot of lobster but still, I paid a good amount of money for this so I should at least get more than 5 mini pieces of lobster! Again, this lack cheese. I see a lot of cheese on top but like none inside where it belongs.

The medium size is quite small which I feel like I'm getting ripped off here. Most likely not returning since neither of the mac and cheese wow-ed me and these two were supposedly their best...

54 Prince St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 226-8877

Bubble Me: Teariffic

It's funny how I never ordered the Bubble Milk Tea here. I've been to Teariffic so many times and it just never cross my mind to order it because they just have so many other great drinks.

I had mine ordered to-go. The service was pretty fast and the person behind the register asked if I needed a bag, how nice. The price for this was $3.20, odd price. If you had it to stay, it would've been $2.95 not including tax, so after tax it came out to that weird price. Teariffic still had the old fashion dome lids for the BMT, a lot of places uses the vacuum seal lids instead now.

As for the taste of the BMT, it was really good. I can taste the tea which is what I look for nowadays when drinking this concoction. The drink was also shaken which gives it that frothy nice mixture and the frothy bubbles you see on the top of the cup. It was not overly sweetened which I appreciate since a lot of places make it way too sweet (hence they have the level of sweetness for you to choose from now). The tapioca balls were good also, chewy on the outside but still had that slight denseness in the center. With each bite, you can taste that they cooked the tapioca in a heavy sweet syrup which is why their milk tea isn't so sweet.

I enjoyed this BMT a lot and even went back the next day to get another one. The consistency and taste was the same the following day. Excellent.

Overall --
Service 4/5
Atmosphere 4/5
Taste 4.5/5
Likelihood to return is 100%

51 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 393-9009

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Flea Market Cafe

J and I went to Flea Market Cafe when we were on the wine binge. We still love wine now but we sort of mellow out of the phase. I found the Flea Market Cafe somewhere on the web, besides the interesting name, they have cheap escargot.

Their menu was straight forward and sounded really appetizing. We ordered a lot of appetizers to go with our wine. Loved that we sat near the front of the restaurant where we felt a nice breeze since they had their windows down.

Decided on a bottle of rose wine. Clean and fresh.

We love escargot and these Oven-baked Snails in garlic and butter were pretty decent. Definitely cheap, only $7.50 but it definitely was missing something. Maybe it's the salt? Maybe some extra butter? Some more garlic? But for its price, it's a steal.

I saw this on the menu and wasn't too sure if we should've gotten it but J made the final decision and placed the order. The Goat Cheese Tartine was delicious. Nicely toasted with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, olives and honey drizzle. This amazing combo went perfectly well with the wine.

So, I really didn't want this Cheese Plate but J was so persistent about it so I just gave up and let him order it. I really don't like cheese, especially uncooked cheese but I am slowly giving them a shot. Currently, I really like mozzarella...progress! These were way too creamy and cheesy, I just couldn't do it! J ended up eating all of it, which he should've expected.

I wanted the Saucisson and Cornichons because it had the gerkins. I absolutely love gerkins and pickles now, something I never thought I would like until J introduced me to them. The cured french sausage were great munchy food. If I had just this and wine, I would be in such a happy place.

Beautifully presented entree, I was so happy when I saw it because I ordered something so dam pretty and good-looking. This usually happens with J's dish but this time, I ordered the better dish (you have no idea how happy this makes me). The Sauteed Codfish Filet over chive risotto and lobster sauce was perfect. Cod is my favorite when it comes to fish and the risotto was so dam good. This is also my first time having risotto and it blew me away. All the flavors worked so well, I would have this entree again in a heartbeat.

J's ordered the Moules Provencale which had tomato and parsley. The mussels were really tiny which was a big disappointment.

Fries came with the mussels which weren't bad. I would rather have better mussels and lose the fries, but that's just me.

Overall, I really like Flea Market Cafe and I can't wait to return. The ambiance is relaxing and really laid back. You can prob sit there for hours with a glass of wine and no one will bother you.

Flea Market Cafe
131 Ave A
New York, NY 10009
(212) 358-9280

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Knickerbocker Bar & Grill

Never would I thought of coming here. I past by it so many times when walking in the area but it wasn't one of those spots I would choose to eat at. There was nothing wrong with it, it's just I didn't see myself going inside and plus nothing appealed to me about it.

It just so happened that after a couple of drinks and the need for steak, J and I gave Knickerbocker a chance. It was weird knowing that I ate here on my birthday. A place I never would have went and yet I dined here on a day that is special to me.

Upon entering the restaurant, the maitre'd by the door was just lounging and leaning sluggishly against the table. He walked us to a table and it took about 10-15 minutes for a waitress to give us a menu. Any longer and I would've just left but I was hungry and I really wanted steak.

The waitress told us the specials of the night and which she also mentioned that they have the last order of skate and if we wanted it, we should order it ASAP. I had steak (of course!) and J decided on the skate...

It was a tad bit awkward 'cause the waitress asked us if we wanted bread and butter. Usually it would be just brought to us without question, I then started questioning myself if we're getting charged for bread... (which we didn't *phew*)

The butter was extremely good along with the cornbread. Whipped butter, yes please! The cornbread was really warm and one of the best I've had. Knickbocker probably isn't so bad afterall.

We ordered an appetizer to share because we were afraid the entrees would be of a large portion. The Grilled Octopus with Fingerling Potatoes was another amazing dish. I'm getting wow-ed by the moment. The octopus was nicely grilled and seasoned well. Although the potatoes were more on the salty side, I did wish there were other vegetables other than potatoes.

Our entree took a while to come out, starting to get unpatient. This is what happens when you're intoxicated with liquor and you go to a place which you didn't have positive feelings of.

My Bone in NY Shell Steak was satisfying. Obviously not the best steak I've had but it worked for me. I liked the steak sauce that was glazed on top of the steak, better for me because I was way too lazy to ask for any sauce and then having to dip it. It also came with mash potato gratin infused with truffle. More potatoes?! I wish it was mac and cheese instead...

J's dish was small. We looked at each other and had the "are you kidding" look. That's what happens when it's the last portion of the night. So lame. It was good but the fact that we feel we got jipped didn't make it taste any better. The Grilled Skate with bok choy and shitake mushroom ended the night with me feeling the same as before I ate here.

I wanted to like this place because the food were pretty to start with. But it just didn't live up to the expectation of a birthday girl. At least it was tried.

Knickbocker Bar & Grill
33 University Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-8490

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sake Bar Hagi

J and I decided to come early since we figured that the later it gets the harder it'll be to get a table here. The weather in NYC was in the 90s and it was extremely uncomfortable to be walking around outside. Given the chance that it opens, we're going inside right away. Half an hour into dinner service and the place was already packed.

Sake Bar Hagi, known for their bottles of sakes also have some good Japanese bar food. We took our time to order and tried to relax and enjoy ourselves.

A yuzu cocktail to cool myself down. We ordered sake and shoju also but they literally looked like water in a glass, nothing too special. They were definitely strong in taste. One bottle and I'm sure I'll be done for the night.

Fried Chicken Gizzard.
Love me some gizzard and I can't say no to fried food! The chewy tough texture of the gizzard is so addicting. Think of it has chewing a tough part of a chicken but breaks apart a lot easier. A little lemon and it's perfect.

Assorted yakitori. From top to bottom - duck, liver, chicken skin. Right side, top to bottom - pork belly and pork intestines. The duck was really good which I was surprised because I don't usually see duck skewers at a Japanese restaurant. Liver was really liver-y and iron-y, good thing there was only 4 pieces. The chicken skin and intestines tasted crunchy and oily. Pork belly was your average pork meat, nothing too special.

Grilled Mackerel.
Delicious grilled whole mackerel. Filled with meat but do look out for those tiny bones, they are so tricky to find!

Beef Tongue.
Beef tongue has a very similar consistency to chicken gizzard. If you slice up chicken gizzards as thin as beef tongue, I'm sure they taste very much alike.

Uni Sashimi.
J ordered this. I would never had the guts to order anything sashimi because I personally don't like it as much. One thing though, the uni was really fresh and they give a generous portion for the price. The fresh grated wasabi actually goes great with the uni because it counters the fishy-ness of it.

Sauteed Chicken Gizzard and Garlic Sprouts.
To end the night I figured we could use something that was sauteed. Plus, I wanted some greens since everything we ordered before seemed so unhealthy. And we needed a bit of munchy food to go with our sake and shoju.

Definitely a good Japanese bar. Since it's located in midtown the vibe that you get is more matured and laid back. It's loud but not as crazy loud as Kenka or Oh! Taisho in the East Village.

Sake Bar Hagi
152 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 764-8549

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Totto Ramen

I never would've thought I would come here so soon. I've heard about the long lines and writing your name on the clipboard and limited seats.

It was the 4th of July and I actually thought by going there around opening, the waiting wouldn't be as bad since I assume people would be either at the beach or barbequing. Boy, was I wrong. Apparently, Totto Ramen opened half an hour earlier and is closing early because it's the holiday. So must for planning this out. When J and I was walking there, we tried to out-walk some of the people that we were pretty sure were going there too just so we can put our names before theirs. Yea, pretty evil.

The wait took about 40 minutes and wasn't so bad. The weather was nice, we had shade and the people around us were pricks and snobs.

Their menu was small and to the point. Service was quick and efficient.

It's a small and tight place with about 20 seats or so. Majority of the seats are by the bar. I don't suggest bringing a big party here, maybe maximum 4 if you really want to but the best would be 1-2 people as it'll be easier and faster to be seated. At a place like this, you just don't bring large groups. I mean, it's a bowl of ramen that you can eat in less than 10 minutes so just ditch your friends for a couple of minutes, you won't die.

What would be better than quenching your thirst with Sapporo Premium beer. It's the real deal. Plus, it's not a small bottle from what the menu said, it looks like a regular size beer bottle to me. Liars!

Avo Tuna.
It's funny how J and I were thinking of the same thing. So glad we ordered this because it was so refreshing and a great appetizer. The tuna was lightly seared and placed over slices of avocado which were all dressed with yuzu garlic sauce. Man, I love yuzu! Now, I know for next time we're ordering a plate for ourselves.

Totto Spicy Ramen.
I would've gotten their regular ramen but since I know my tolerance for spicy food had gone up, I told myself that I would get this. So glad I did. The extra spicy oil gave the bowl of ramen the perfect kick. The broth was delicious. It was heavy to a point where I want to just clutch my stomach and go into a fetal position but instead, I see myself drinking the soup even at the end when all my noodles were gone. The char siu was decent, actual fatty pieces that was really juicy and soft. The extra scallions and bean sprouts was perfect with the ramen, I love different textures and taste when I eat my ramen. A heavenly bowl indeed.

I would love to come back for their bowl of excellency. Maybe when winter comes I'll be bold enough to get the extra spicy ramen.

Totto Ramen
366 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-0052 

Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Brewery

So, it was the day before July 4th and I got out early from work. Met up with J and had no idea where we're going. Somehow we arrived at Artichoke Pizza shop. I've heard about this place but never actually thought of going there. I mean, artichoke and pizza?

The slice of pizza was pretty big. I had to have it sliced in half so J and I can share it. The slice cost $4.50 which is a bit hefty on the price but it's a specialty pizza and I'm sure not a lot of places are able to pull a great tasting artichoke pizza.

The artichoke pizza was extremely creamy, more so than cheesy. I was hoping it was the other way around. The slice was quite thick and after heating it up, it was so crunchy. By the time you get to the crust, it's so hard and dry that you want to just toss it out.

The pizza was good. Nothing great. I wouldn't go out of my way to get it the second time around but it was definitely something different than your regular tomato and cheese pizza.

Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Brewery
328 E 14th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-2004

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mr. Robata

J and I decided to hit up Mr. Robata for their happy hour which starts at 4pm and that's exactly the time we got there. Made reservation last minute but wasn't needed since when we arrive, we were the only ones dining there for a good 2 hours before people starting walking through the doors.

The service was excellent as the waitress talked to us about the food and suggested which cocktails to get. She even got personal about what she thought of Brooklyn.

J and I tried not to order too much food as our objective was to enjoy ourselves with the drinks.

For the cocktails, we almost tried everything except for 2 since it didn't appeal to us as much.

Touch of Heaven.

Nashi Spice.


Yamamomo Fizz.


Yuzu Martini.
My absolute favorite.


 I am so upset that I don't remember what this is called. It was pretty good. Not remember is really bugging me...

Black Dahlia.
The special cocktail of the night that is off the menu.

Now it seems like J and I are an alcoholic couple, but we're not! We just like to drink :-)

Spicy Tuna Escargot.

Once again, escargot is in the title of the dish so you know what that means. All the different textures and taste were a bit weird, but a good kind of weird.

We then ordered sushi a la carte. Even though it's more expensive this way, we decide that there were certain sushi on the menu we rather try than the given omakase special.



King Crab.




I have the say that out of the bunch, my favorite were the king crab and yellowtail. Which we ended up getting a second order of. I'm starting to appreciate sushi given that they gave the entire piece of sushi a little twist. It's no longer just a plain piece of fish on top of rice and then dip into soy sauce, but the other flavors that is incorporated into the sushi.

The two rolls which I did not take a close up on are the Misty (on the right side) and Stardust (on the left side).

As the night progresses and even though we finished our sushi, we needed more food to go along with our cocktails.

Grilled Baby Octopus.
Absolutely delicious. The waitress definitely didn't recommend the wrong items. Not as chewy as it seems, the octopus was boiled and then grilled giving it that soft light chewy texture with a great smokey grill scent. The infused mash potato with butter on the bottom was awesome also. Love the presentation and flowers.

Saikyo Miso Chilean Sea Bass.
Another dish our waitress recommended. Light and creamy, so good.

The only issue I have is that the bathroom is dark. I can't even see myself when I look into the mirror, I mean you won't trip and fall but at least put a light bulb around the mirror. Other than that, great food and definitely great drinks. Towards the end of the night, the maitre'd came over and asked if we drove or not, how caring. Would love to come back for their cocktails during happy hour.

Mr. Robata
1674 Broadway
Manhattan, NY 10019
(212) 757-1030